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DVRs No Big Deal Yet

To hear some people tell it, digital video recorders (DVRs) are totally transforming the TV landscape, giving hordes of viewers unprecedented control over what they watch and when they watch it. The networks are crying foul. Advertisers are quaking and shaking in their boots. Indeed, the number of folks with DVRs in their homes is certainly on the upswing. In a new survey, Leichtman Research Group (LRG) found that about 12% of U.S. households have a DVR. That's up from a mere 3% just two years ago, before most cable operators were actively hawking the machines. Likewise, a recent study by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) found that 17% of cable homes have a DVR, up from a modest 7% only a year earlier. Even more impressively, the study found, 30% of digital cable subscribers now have one of these newfangled digital recorders. So DVRs really are a big deal, eh? Uh, not really. Even though they may now be in close to 15 million American homes, they haven't exactly revolutionized the way that most of us watch TV just yet. Consider some other LRG study tidbits. Despite the jump in DVR take rates, the consulting group found that recorded DVR programs still account for an extremely tiny share of all TV viewing. In fact, DVR and video-on-demand programs together accounted for less than 4% of all U.S. TV viewing, up from about 2% a year ago, as viewers tend to watch them only as a last resort. So let's not jump the gun yet on DVRs, OK? Come back in three or four years and then we'll talk. -- Alan Breznick, Site Editor, Cable Digital News
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